Last week at the Sony World Photography Awards, Sony made a surprise announcement, the introduction of their latest model in the Alpha lineup, the Sony a9. The 24.2-million-pixel mirrorless model is the world’s first camera to feature an Exmor RS stacked full-frame CMOS sensor. It also comes equipped with a Bionx X processor supported by a front-end LSI and is capable of shooting at 20 frames per second with no viewfinder blackout with a buffer of 241 raw frames or 362 jpegs before the camera slows down and and vibration-free shooting at speeds up to 1/32,000 sec.
Other key features include an on-sensor AF system with 693 phase-detection points arrayed across 93% of the frame that’s capable of 60 focus and exposure tracking calculations per second; 5-axis in-body stabilisation that Sony claims gives up to 5 stops benefit; and twin SD card slots, one of which supports the UHS-II standard. Click here to read more.
Shortly after announcing the Alpha 9, Sony arranged for us to get hands on with the new camera and the latest addition to Sony’s flagship G-Master lens series, the FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS. Off we went to The Ring Boxing Club in London where Sony had organised a number of shooting setups, which included a range of boxing and gymnastics scenarios, to allow us to test the autofocus and drive speed of the Alpha 9.
There was a constant light setup inside the boxing gym to allow us to freeze the action with fast shutter speeds starting from 1/1000 sec. With wide aperture values selected, f/4-5.6, depth of field was restricted, allowing us to put the AF system to the test. I also tested the sensitivity levels from ISO 1600 – 3200, both of which gave good results. While the subjects didn’t give us the opportunity to test the focus tracking under really difficult conditions, the hit rate was pretty impressive.
When it came to shooting the gymnasts we were able to see how good the Sony a9’s high speed continuous shooting capabilities are. Shooting at 20fps, blackout-free, enabled us to keep the subject within the frame to capture a burst of images that make rather cool action sequences as shown in the video below.
We think this high-speed camera will certainly give the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark II a run for their money, priced slightly cheaper at £4500. Read A9 vs The Competition here. The Sony a9 is due to go on sale in June – stay tuned for our full review around that time.
See below a selection of sample JPEG images straight out the camera